Per about 15 different sources, 14 of which have studied or are currently at Medill, Pat Fitzgerald has been fired as the head coach of the Northwestern Wildcats.
Northwestern has parted ways from Pat Fitzgerald, sources tell us.— The Daily Northwestern (@thedailynu) July 10, 2023
Sources: Northwestern has fired coach Pat Fitzgerald.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 10, 2023
Sources: Northwestern has parted ways with Pat Fitzgerald.— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) July 10, 2023
In case you didn’t keep up with the timeline, here’s a quick overview of what happened:
- Friday, July 7: Northwestern announces Fitzgerald would be suspended for two weeks as punishment for allegations of hazing brought forth by a player within the program.
- Saturday, July 8: The Daily Northwestern reports some of the allegations in detail, including accounts of alleged sexual harassment described as hazing and endemic within the program.
- Later that day: Northwestern President Michael Schill—formerly in the same position at Oregon—announces that he and the Board of Trustees “erred” in their initial judgment of Fitzgerald and would be reassessing the situation.
- Sunday, July 9: Northwestern players purporting to be “The ENTIRE Northwestern Football Team” release a statement denying that there was hazing, but if there was it wasn’t that bad, but regardless Pat Fitzgerald knew nothing about the hazing. It does not go well.
- Monday, July 10 (AM): Other former Northwestern players interviewed by The Daily Northwestern and InsideNU describe a culture of racism within the program, including allegations from the late 2000s in which Fitzgerald and staffers—under the guise of “the Wildcat Way”—would ask Black players to cut off dreadlocks and Latino players were subject to racist jokes and abuse.
- Monday, July 10 (2pm): The Parkins and Spiegel sports talk radio show on AM670 The Score (Chicago) details several allegations against Northwestern baseball coach Jim Foster of a toxic work environment and reveals that the current Northwestern athletics director, Dr. Derrick Gragg, had little role in Foster’s hiring, instead delegating the process to boosters.
- Monday, July 10 (PM): Prominent Wildcats like Cleveland Browns DB Greg Newsome II speak out in support of Fitzgerald. One former staffer shares the identity of the whistleblower in a Twitter message. The posts receive likes from dozens of Northwestern football players, some of whom post their own messages.
- Monday, July 10 (5pm hour, CT): Northwestern fires Fitzgerald. What his record was is irrelevant—that’s not why he was fired.
Further updates go here:
[6:31pm, 7/10/23] Northwestern President Michael Schill released a statement:
Official Letter from Northwestern President Michael Schill on his decision to relieve Pat Fitzgerald of his duties as the Wildcats' head coach: pic.twitter.com/eRu7OKA8KI— Inside NU (@insidenu) July 10, 2023
[8:15pm, 7/10/23] Per Matt Fortuna a couple hours ago, defensive coordinator will serve as the “day-to-day program liaison for the time being.” Fitzgerald also addressed the team:
Expect Northwestern to make defensive coordinator David Braun the day-to-day liaison for the football program for the time being.— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) July 10, 2023
Pat Fitzgerald and his family addressed the players tonight in an emotional farewell, per source.
[9:22pm, 7/10/23] Fitzgerald’s statement:
Statement attached from former Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald to ESPN, which includes that he's hired a high-profile attorney to "take the necessary steps to protect my rights in accordance with the law." Fitzgerald: "I was surprised when I learned that the president of… pic.twitter.com/zPNTAkr2xn— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 11, 2023
I apologize for not having much to say—as a non-Medill alumnus of Northwestern I’m not compensated with the words or a misplaced sense of ego to comment on the matter beyond this: it’s heartbreaking for the students who were subjected to this kind of alleged atmosphere. It’s embarrassing to see what a poorly-run, poorly-regulated, toxic culture has built up around Northwestern athletics. And I’m sad to think that the only coach I’ve really ever know as the face of Northwestern football is gone because of this—how it happened, how poorly it was handled, and how it reflects on my alma mater.
Feel free to sound off in the comments. This is a breaking story that we’ll talk more about in the coming days.